Sunday, 07 March, 2021


Here’s what you need to know about the 2020 global carbon budget

Global CO2 emissions 'plunged by 7% in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic' Global carbon dioxide emissions cut by record amount in pandemic-hit 2020
Kristine Garrett | 15 December, 2020, 06:23

A locked-down pandemic-struck world cut its carbon dioxide emissions this year by 7%, the biggest drop ever, new preliminary figures show.

Despite lower global emissions in 2020, the level of carbon concentrations in the atmosphere is still increasing, continuing to heat up the Earth, melting ice, and raise sea level.

Transport made up the biggest share of falling emissions as auto journeys were reduced and aviation was halted, researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Exeter and the Global Carbon Project said. The only two nations expected to see a larger drop are the United States and the European Union (EU).

Even with emissions expected to rise after the pandemic, scientists are wondering if 2019 will be the peak of carbon pollution, LeQuere said.

China saw the smallest reduction in carbon emissions (-1.7%), where the countries rate of rising emissions offset the reduction caused by COVID-19 restrictions.

The global response to the Covid-19 pandemic has driven the biggest annual fall in Carbon dioxide emissions since World War Two, say researchers.

France and the United Kingdom saw the greatest falls, mainly due to severe shutdowns in response to a second wave of infections.

The 2015 UN Paris climate agreement set global goals to reduce carbon emissions to protect the planet from the drastic effects of climate change.

Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, thinks emissions will increase after the pandemic, but said "I am optimistic that we have, as a society learned some lessons that may help decrease emissions in the future".

"All elements are not yet in place for sustained decreases in global emission, and emissions are slowly edging back to 2019 levels", Corinne Le Quere, a professor at the UEA's School of Environmental Sciences, said.

Globally, the peak of the decrease in emissions occurred in the first half of April, when lockdown measures were at their maximum, particularly across Europe and the USA.

The gains will be even higher for India, with an average estimated 8.2% drop in fossil carbon emissions projected for 2020.

However, despite lower emissions in 2020, the level of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to grow - by about 2.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2020 - and is projected to reach 412 ppm averaged over the year, 48 per cent above pre-industrial levels.

"The atmospheric Carbon dioxide level, and consequently the world's climate, will only stabilise when global Carbon dioxide emissions are near zero", Friedlingstein noted. India's emissions were already lower than normal late past year because of economic turmoil and strong hydropower generation, the report said. In 2019 deforestation and degradation fires were about 30 per cent above the previous decade.

Land and ocean carbon sinks continue to increase in line with emissions, absorbing about 54% of the total human-induced emissions.

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